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Florian brothers roll into Burbank Gracie Barra for jiu jitsu seminar

MMA: Former UFC contender Kenny Florian and brother Keith drop by Burbank Gracie Barra to offer some pointers.

June 16, 2012|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com

With the sports of mixed martial arts ever growing and evolving, the Burbank Gracie Barra studio on Saturday afternoon was very much a microcosm of that notion.

Along with his brother, Keith, former three-time Ultimate Fighting Championship title challenger Kenny Florian dropped by the Burbank gym to host a seminar on Brazilian jiu jitsu in mixed martial arts.

"MMA is in its infancy right now," said Keith Florian, who cornered his brother throughout his standout UFC career and, like Kenny, is a jiu jitsu black belt. "People are learning and adapting every day."

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Saturday's seminar was very much a session on how best to apply jiu jitsu in the world of MMA, while also driving home the point that no matter how experienced the MMA fighter or jiu jitsu player, there's always something to learn.

"Never stop learning," Kenny Florian told the group in a speech to close the seminar.

Throughout the session, which ran just more than two hours, the Florian brothers demonstrated myriad techniques, positions, submissions and submission defenses, as well as how best to incorporate ground-and-pound offense through jiu jitsu.

"There's different aspects of Brazilian jiu jitsu," said Kenny Florian, who owns eight submission victories in a 14-6 MMA career. "And there's the aspect of Brazilian jiu jitsu for mixed martial arts, which is a different animal."

Those in attendance, which included Glendale resident and Gracie Barra Burbank proprietor Alberto Crane, varied from youngsters to novices to even current UFC fighter Jared Papazian, whose training home base is the gym.

"It was pretty cool to meet Kenny Florian and Jared Papazian, as well as Keith," said 12-year-old Burbank resident Omar Ibnoujala, who regularly takes classes at Burbank Gracie Barra. "We learned a couple transitions and escapes that were really helpful.

"It's actually really cool to train with them. They're professional fighters."

Kenny Florian was part of the landmark first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" in 2005 that truly launched the UFC into America's living rooms. He would fight in the season's middleweight final before going on to an ultra-successful career in the lightweight division, where he was a perennial top-10 fighter and twice challenged for the title before dropping down and fighting for the 145-pound belt in 2011 before announcing his retirement earlier this year. Now he's a color commentator on UFC on FX and Fuel TV broadcasts.

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